In today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Attorney General Mike Mukasey refused to answer whether Bush had violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act under the Terrorist Surveillance Program.
Under questioning from Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Mukasey said he “can’t contemplate” a situation where President Bush would assert “Article II authority to do something that the law forbids.”
Specter shot back, “Well, he did just that in violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act…didn’t he?” Mukasey continued to hedge:
MUKASEY:I think we are now in a situation where [that issue] had been brought within statutes, and that’s the procedure going forward
SPECTER: That’s not the point. The point is that he acted in violation of statutes, didn’t he?
MUKASEY: I don’t know whether he acted in violation of statutes.
Specter explained that the question was a no brainer, as FISA “expressly mandates you have to go to a court to get an order for wiretapping. There’s really no dispute about that.”
The New York Times famously revealed in 2005 that Bush has allowed spying “without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying.”
As the contentious FISA legislation moves forward in Congress, Mukasey’s flacking for the administration’s illegal surveillance is deeply unsettling.
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